One of the things that I try to do with my landscapes is to reduce the image to a minimal set of components – sky, sea, land. Sometimes I go to great lengths to hide the clutter that surrounds most of our beautiful views. It seems a rather logical progression from that to attempt to produce that minimal set of elements in a graphical way – essentially only placing into the image that which is a strong self contained element. Here’s an image that I produced from a ‘drive by’ photo of Rathlin Island, off the coast of Northern Ireland. I hope you like it 🙂
There’s a wonderful soft light to the South Downs, and there are spectacular views from the top of the Downs all the way to the coast, and along the spine of the chalk hills that comprise the South Downs.
One of the enchanting aspects of walking the Downs is the sense of layers that are laid out before you. Ditchling Beacon is my nearest viewpoint, and it’s the perfect place to capture these layers. First of all there’s the grass along the paths, and the wildflowers along the fences. Then there are the fields of every shade and colour in the middle distance. And topping it off are big skies.
It’s that time of year again. The sun is out (mostly) and the UK is holidaying. Wherever you choose to go this year there will always be the holiday snaps. Perhaps that’s all you want, a record of where you’ve been, and who you’ve been with, but with the ultimate destination for our holiday photos being social media, we all need to try and make the most of our images.
The single simple improvement to your image, whether it’s a smart phone or a camera, is composition. It’s the easiest thing in the world to point your camera at your loved one and end of with a person front and centre of the shot. It’s also the most boring image.
Here’s one simple tip to help you take a more interesting shot. When photographing a person, put them to one side of the centre, but looking towards the centre of the image. A good rule is to put the person (or other subject) about a third of the way in from one side, and one third of the way up from the bottom of the frame. The eye naturally follows where someone is looking, so if they are looking out of the frame, your eye will follow. So, place them looking in to the empty space in the image and you naturally follow that.
Take a look at the image above and see how it follows this principle.
The town of Hastings, nestled between two hills on the South Coast of England is one of those archetypal British resorts. There’s the old town, with all its quirkiness, and the new town alongside, stretching the promenade all the way along the coast. The pier has been subject to a recent modernisation project, but from a distance looks just the same as many UK piers.
The beach huts are ubiquitous all along this coast. For most resorts the choice of paint is up to the individual, resulting in many colours, and much fading and flaking. When I saw this set of beach huts by Hastings Pier I loved the uniformity of colour as well as the freshness of the paint. They make a wonderful foreground contrast to the pier and the setting sun.
For anyone who follows this blog this image will be no surprise. I’m constantly looking for the archetypal unfocal image, one that doesn’t draw the eye to a particular spot, but is restful to look at and enduring in its appeal. When the light is right, the light is all you need. In this case the sliver of sand and sea give sufficient context to take the image out of the abstract while still being soft and unfocal.
Sometimes less is definitely more. This shot was taken from a boat off the Ballycastle coast.
There’s something about cities – the buzz, the people, the multiplicity of styles and cultures. There’s a little bit of everything. It’s often difficult to encapsulate this into an instant, to take a slice of that life and freeze frame it, but street photography tries to do just that. It’s a difficult thing to undertake these days when no-one wants their picture taken, but the results, when done right, are just that: a slice of city life.
The Donegal coast of Ireland really is a must see. From Malin Head to Fanad Lighthouse to Downings and the Atlantic Drive, and on round to Portnblagh the views are to die for, whether it’s sunny or shady. My personal favourite is the Atlantic Drive starting from Downings. Round every turn of the road another vista opens itself up to the eye. The northern light casts a beauty that envelops beaches, houses, roads with a quality that is hard to capture. You’ve got to be there!
But if you can’t, a photograph catches something of that light, of that beauty, of that atmosphere. One of my favourites from our road trip is this image of a couple of donkeys that came to say hello as we stopped to admire the view.
One of my favourite things to see on the coast is marram grass. The North West coast of England is suffused with sand dunes and marram – that’s where the name of my photography business came from. It’s not so common on this side of the Irish Sea, but on a visit to Murlough Bay a few weeks ago I was delighted not only to find acres of marram and gorse, but also to see that the Mourne Mountains still had a dusting of snow on top. Put two of my favourite things to photograph together and you get a wonderful combination of foreground and background, with just a hint of sea in the middle.
If you would like to own a print for yourself please do drop me a line. I can supply framed or unframed. The following print fit very nicely into IKEA’s simple black frames if you’d like to do it yourself. Prices are £55 for 30cm x 22cm, £75 for 40cm x 30cm, both prices are plus delivery. Other sizes are available, please get in touch to enquire.